I don’t know about you but I used to hate rules. I don’t like them still, well not all the time anyway. In the first place, there’s so many! Don’t touch! Don’t taste! Don’t do! Don’t! Don’t!
Rules even get changed over time. What was considered as a no-no like wearing boy clothes like pants are technically kaput nowadays. Then there’s this unwritten rule that we should get money more and more, or that we should do more every day. Even kids are catching up with what the number of subjects they have at school. Little wonder it is that sometimes they want to do no more than flopping into bed and stay there until summer comes.
Yet, somewhere along the way, I realized their functions.
I realized this painful fact when I was first getting to know about a childhood game. The thing was, nobody taught me anything. I had to observe everything from the way the other kids played the game. There were actually a lot of rules, and it was confusing trying to remember anything because the cool kids used to mix them up or make new ones on the spot. Disgusted and discouraged, I quit playing it altogether. I was never the physical type of person, so it wasn’t such a huge loss, but it taught me the value of living by a set of how-to’s and must-not’s.
The next lesson I got from living by the book was learning how to obey traffic signs. I walk a lot and fast, so sometimes waiting for the pedestrian walk sign to light up was a hurdle for me. At one point, in my haste, I nearly got myself hit by a car because I was already walking in the middle of the street while the red light was still on. Good thing somebody pulled me out of that situation.
Then there were the unlikely social rules to live by. I once got into a principal’s room and immediately sat on the chair. The principal promptly gave me one of the most embarrassing lectures I’ve ever had about manners (saying excuse me and good morning, as well as, do you mind if I disturb you, among other things). My father, who was beside me at the time, just gave me this look and said, “Why didn’t you say that anyway?” I wanted to disappear on the floor.
Rules are definitely not pleasant. They make life harder, but much safer and much more polite, I learned. I had to learn a lot about what not to do (the hard way!) before I managed to say yes to what to do. I thought life should have been freer without them, but it makes so much sense with being free with them in place.
I mean, think about it: rules like don’t touch a hot stove is hardly a punishment for a curious toddler. Take another rule: don’t drink and drive while drunk; it’s hardly an unreasonable yet it gets broken year after year, resulting in considerable casualties. It may not happen often in the US but I’ve heard about the horror stories in other countries where everything goes (literally) in traffic.
This is why I think relationships have rules, too. Such as being faithful to one partner. It certainly saves you from unnecessary heartache, and protects you from some sexually transmitted diseases like crabs, gonorrhoea, Chlamydia and the like. It does not feel like fun but it’s there for a reason, and many who come into committed relationships have this almost universal and written rule. Although there are some cultures that promote polygamy (more than one partner), it seems everyone is looking for faithfulness.
What about you? What sort of rules do you live by?